Public administration

Uit Tilburg Wiki

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The term “Public Administration” refers to “the aggregate of organizations, processes and structures in which decisions are made that are binding for society,” also known as: the government. Tilburg University is interconnected with public administration in various ways. For a start, the University has a complex relation with public administration. On the grounds of Article 23 of the Dutch Constitution ‒ arranging, amongst other things, the equal right to funding of schools under private patronage and state schools ‒ the main share of the University’s funding comes from the State. Funding rules, however, have also given rise to a regulatory frenzy that affects virtually each and every aspect of the University: its education (including, for instance, relations between exam boards and faculty boards), student participation, program accreditation, program financing, program admissions and – through student grants schemes ‒ student incomes. And Article 23 of the Constitution was intended to protect freedom of education.

Political influence

Particularly since the so-called “performance targets” were introduced, public administration has penetrated deep into the nooks and crannies of education. The University needs to reach agreements on first-year dropout rates, on second-year intake figures and on the percentage of BTQ-qualified lecturers (Basic Teaching Qualification). Lessons learned from Tilburg studies on performance management were not taken to heart when this system was introduced. These studies showed that there were unintended effects: lower rather than higher quality of education. The pursuit of lower dropout rates and higher student throughput rates, it seems, may also cause requirement levels to drop. This danger had by no means vanished by 2017.

Political connections

Tilburg University is also connected with public administration through its research programs. Public administration creates law, applies it (as in Public Law) and evaluates it through law. In the Tilburg Law School, therefore, and in Public Administration in particular, there is virtually no research that is not related at some level ‒ from local to global ‒ to public administration. Disciplines such as Organization Studies, Philosophy and Public Economics conduct studies into public sector organizations or public administration, and much of this, in its turn, is also funded by public administration: by the European Union, by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), which is also part and parcel of public administration or by the Tilburg local council.

Alumni in public functions

The University is also connected to public administration through its alumni as many alumni and former professors found jobs in public administration. Jan de Quay, for instance was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1963; Norbert Schmelzer was State Secretary at the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of General Affairs in the fifties; and former law student Klaas Dijkhoff was State Secretary for Security and Justice in 2017. At local levels, there are a great many councilors and mayors who were former Tilburg students. On the current Tilburg local council, there are alumni Erik de Ridder and Berend de Vries; on the Brabant provincial council, we find Christophe van der Maat. There are also top-ranking civil servants with a Tilburg background: when alumnus Richard van Zwol resigned as Secretary-General at the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, he was portrayed in the NRC as flying through the sky in a Superman outfit.

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